- Social media has helped to move the thoughts of Orang Asli communities towards socio-political issues
Social media has helped to move the thoughts of Orang Asli communities towards socio-political issues, said Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) coordinator Dr Colin Nicholas.
He noted that the indigenous people’s daily thoughts had moved away from petty matters, such as what they had for meals, to more pressing issues such as encroachment upon their land, rights and culture.
“As a result of social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp, the Orang Asli, most of whom live in rural areas, are able to have a platform where they can engage fellow indigenous people to create greater awareness.
“The easy access of social media through smartphones enables them to actively respond to each other, creating an audience that is engaged in the issues at stake.
“In the past, this sharing was limited to word of mouth, but now the larger audience has helped them to be more vocal in giving ideas.”
Nicholas was speaking at a talk yesterday on how the Orang Asal have been portrayed in the media over the past three decades.
Nicholas, who had been studying the community and culture since 1983, said the media had given ample coverage to the Orang Asli in Malay, English and Chinese publications.
“However, there is a lack of follow-up on initiatives and programmes launched for the Orang Asli.”
He explained that follow-ups were needed because one story on its own may not cover all aspects of an event or issue properly, and that things may have changed a lot after some time.
He noted that there were often side issues which had not been touched on.
“Some news reports have also portrayed the Orang Asli as being unable to take care or plan for themselves, which is not accurate, especially when the news source is not directly from the Orang Asli.
“News reports on Orang Asli must be written from their perspective.
“They will always welcome aid and development, but it must be given on their land, terms and pace.”
He also noted that the Orang Asli were now much better in fighting for their rights, including by taking up matters to the courts.